A Political Science Question to Stump Them All

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 5/13/2008 01:59:00 AM
I have been searching in vain for the ultimate killer essay question to stump all comers. At last, I seem to have found something which should have masters-level students sufficiently befuddled. It appeals to me on a number of levels in a nerdy sort of way. Not only is it pedantic, but it also has a way of confusing all but the most diligent of students. Heck, I myself was confused by this question for a long time. Only with the passage of some time have I been able to come up with it for the answer eluded me as well. Here it goes:

What are the similarities and differences among neo-liberal institutionalism, new institutionalism, and new institutional economics?

Some dyed-in-wool political economy junkies might have the answer off the top of their heads. Despite all of these terms sounding like each other, there are indeed substantial differences among them. Don't worry; these aren't the sorts of questions posed to graduate-level students. I wish such were the case, but it may be more akin to torture than a test of one's grasp of political science concepts.

In case you want to give this question a shot, here are some short essays which may be of help on neo-liberal institutionalism by PhD student Joseph Ellis, new institutionalism by the legendary Norwegian researcher Johan P. Olsen, and new institutional economics by Nobel Prize in Economics laureate Ronald Coase. Enjoy, I suppose.